The Social Organization of Illegal Markets
Taking an economic sociology perspective, this introduction offers a systematic overview of the social organization of arenas of exchange prohibited by state law. We first distinguish different types of illegal markets, examine their internal functioning, and address state and political reactions to them, paying particular attention to the selective enforcement of the law and the role of informal rules. Second, we introduce the distinction between illegality and legitimacy, which is crucial for an understanding of the prevalence and form of illegal markets, and address two sources of social acceptance of illegality: externalities and expectations of the future. Third, considering the completely transformed role of the state, we allude to the architecture of illegal markets, indicate actors’ specific coordination problems, and illustrate how actors cope with them using cases contained in this volume. Finally, we elucidate the role of tax havens and the role of illegality in capitalist dynamics.
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